OTTAWA – Bank of Canada governor Mark Carney is rejecting criticism of potential bias over his cosy relationships with some members of the Liberal Party, saying his actions have been appropriate.
Speaking publicly for the first time since it was revealed he vacationed last summer at the vacation home of Liberal finance critic Scott Brison, Carney said he has a right to a private live and stands behind everything he’s done as governor of the central bank.
With Carney expected to field similar questions when he testifies before the Treasury Select committee in London next month relating to his pending appointment as Bank of England governor, he seemed prepared for the issue to come up at a news conference Wednesday.
“My actions were appropriate. They’ve been looked at by the general counsel of the bank in consultation with the independent lead director of the board of directors of the bank, they came to exactly same conclusion … actions were appropriate,” he said.
“I understand a few people had questions about it, but in the end … what we are talking about is my private life, my private vacation. I don’t see that I need to detail my private life and my interaction with my friends.”
While Carney was cleared of conflict of interest by the bank’s internal review, critics accused him of at least an appearance of conflict.
Last summer, Carney stayed a week at Brison’s Nova Scotia summer home at about the same time he was being courted by several Liberals to quit his job at the bank and run for the political party’s leadership. Carney turned down the request, but it is unclear how seriously he might have contemplated the switch.
Brison and Carney both say the have been friends since 2004 when the former was a Liberal cabinet minister and the latter worked in the Finance Department.
News of the relationship and flirtation with the Liberals sent many scrambling to review past addresses by the governor, zeroing in on a speech last summer when Carney came out strongly for exploiting Canada’s oil reserves, calling the resource and high commodity prices a net benefit for Canada.
That speech was seen partially in political terms, since it contradicted NDP Leader Tom Mulcair’s assertion that high oil prices were responsible for the appreciation of the loonie and subsequently killing manufacturing jobs in central Canada.
Carney insisted it was correct for him to speak on out an important economic issue affecting Canada and dismissed any suggestion his position might have been partisan.
“In discharging my responsibilities as the governor of the Bank of Canada, it’s all out in the open … and I stand by everything I’ve done over the course of my term,” he said.
Carney added he has no control over what others might ask of him, in reference to Liberal overtures to enter politics, but he can control his response.
“I can control what I do. Very clearly, I haven’t entered politics, I’m a lifelong central banker,” he said.